By Ashley Amon and Andrew Daar
Season 2, episodes 11 and 12, “Seat of Power” and “Roz in the Doghouse”
Original air dates: Dec. 13, 1994 and Jan. 3, 1995
Ashley: Bullies are a tough subject. I think everyone can recall a time in their lives in which they were derided, pushed around, or otherwise made to feel bad about themselves based on someone else’s comments. In today’s world, bullying is a topic in the public eye, as well it should be. But what about in past generations? What about the Crane Brothers?
In “Seat of Power”, we get to meet the Kriezel Brothers, plumbers in their adult lives but formerly bullies of both Niles and Frasier. Initially, the meeting between the Kriezels and the Cranes is a coincidence. In an effort to prove to Martin that they’re self-reliant, Niles and Frasier attempt to fix the toilet in Frasier’s bathroom. When they don’t succeed, they call a plumber, and are once again at the “mercy of tradesmen”, as Frasier words it. They sit down on the couch, toast the Circle of Life, and enjoy Montrachet time.
Upon realizing that Danny Kriezel, Niles’ bully, is the plumber that arrives on job, Niles nearly has a nervous breakdown. Frasier cleverly tries to convince Niles that Niles has actually won because he’s a successful and wealthy psychiatrist (I love the opera quip: “Ludwig, maddened by the poisoning of his entire family, wreaks vengeance on Gunther in the third act by living well”). Not realizing that being a plumber is a very lucrative career and pays extremely well, Niles makes comments trying to put Danny in his place as a laborer only to have Danny easily discuss their ownership in similar luxury vehicles.
Niles makes some great headway with Danny. Then we get to meet Billy, Frasier’s bully. And the beast is loosed.
“Roz in the Doghouse” is a fun episode to me. I enjoy Roz-centered episodes because she’s such an interesting person. In this episode, we get to see her apartment including her boot collection (on a side note, Peri Gilpin is a Texan, so the cowboy boots in the bookcase are a cute touch). I live in a studio myself with an electic decorating theme, which means Frasier would hate it, especially my year-round Christmas lights and several state license plates on the wall.
This whole episode is based around Frasier’s mindset that the only reason Bulldog wants Roz as his producer to get her in bed. Considering the reputation that both Bulldog and Roz have around the office, Frasier and Niles quickly assume that they’ve spent the night together after he comes to work wearing the same clothes from the night before (apologetically he comes to Roz’s apartment with whiskey, sandwiches and fries, and offers to paint her toes; a good deal to me, really).
I like this episode but I found Frasier’s behavior extremely sexist in the beginning, merely because I thought he was indirectly insulting Roz, or actually, not realizing how talented she was at her job. In the end, though, he’s proven right, which didn’t give me a high opinion of Bulldog.
What did you think of this episode? More so, what did you think of Frasier’s behavior? I was a little annoyed that his assessment of Bulldog proved to be right, which basically gave credit to his initially sexist behavior.
Andrew: “Roz in the Doghouse” featured a lot of sexism on Frasier’s part, but I like to think that the episode was somewhat necessary in light of how the Frasier/Roz relationship has been handled so far this season. (Whether the relationship needed to go through this trial by fire at all is questionable after how well they got along last year.) Throughout the season, Frasier has been dismissive of Roz. Most of what he has said to her has been sexist comments or angry statements when she screws up. And he takes her for granted, assuming that she’ll always be there for him and his show. So what happens when he has to do his show without her? What happens when he doesn’t have someone he trusts on the other side of the booth? What happens when people don’t act in the way he believes they must? (Initially, at least.) Frasier has to learn to appreciate Roz and realize that she is more than just a trained cockatoo, that a good producer is invaluable to a radio show.
Both of these episodes do a great job of showing just how wrong Frasier is in his thought that his Harvard degree means he has everything figured out. Bulldog may be a lecherous pervert, but Frasier was no better a friend to Roz. He bailed on her because he had opera tickets (to be fair, he was physically holding other people’s tickets, but he could have come back afterward), leaving her alone with Bulldog, the very man he believes is destined to hit on her. Frasier can’t imagine that there was even the slightest chance that Bulldog desired Roz for her producing skills. And in “Seat of Power,” Frasier’s voice drips with contempt when he says that he and Niles are at the “mercy of tradesmen.” In Frasier’s “circle of life,” he and Niles are the elite who rely upon the unwashed masses for the dirty work and to provide them with money. That they must rely on them is a necessary evil. The Kriezels challenge the Cranes’ views of tradesmen, revealing that they live lives worthy of envy (read: they have enough money to afford luxury vehicles) and that at least one of them can be reasonable.
Ashley: Frasier comes to realize that Roz is essential for his success. But the end of the episode proves he’s right about Bulldog and his smug expression to Roz as he says “I’m listening” irritated me a little bit. We the audience know that Roz is great at her job, and she brings a lot of success to Bulldog’s show as well, but the final scene kind of makes it moot: Bulldog’s goal was to get Roz in bed and Frasier was right. He even dismisses her in the opening scene of the episode, telling Seattle that Roz has never been married and has “squeezed more fruit than Tropicana” when she lends her opinion on dating to a caller.
Knowing your thoughts on Niles’ behavior towards Daphne, what did you think about her statement to Frasier and Roz about gift-giving, i.e. her assumption that Niles giving her gifts was harmless and he wasn’t “after anything”?
I thought it was rather profound that Niles was able to get through to Danny and fully analyze him. He manages to make a breakthrough and Niles can accept the bullying and put it past him. Frasier meanwhile, despite his Harvard education, seeks revenge in the most juvenile manner (because “living well” won’t cut it in this instance) and shoves Billy’s head in the toilet. But, like you said, Danny can be reasonable and be open to change while Billy is not. The Kriezels and Cranes end up being very similar in this episode. Both sets of brothers are successful in their careers and can afford nice things. The younger brothers figure out what their issues are and works towards solving them while the older brothers never change and lapse into their juvenile selves.
Andrew: I agree about the end of “Roz in the Doghouse”; just because Frasier was right about Bulldog doesn’t give him the moral high ground, and his “victory” annoyed me. He got to keep his pride and rub Roz’s face in his “rightness” after an episode about how he took her for granted.
Daphne’s sheer obliviousness to Niles’ desire for her is strange, seeing as how he nearly kissed her and she called him out on it. Her awareness of Niles’ feelings seems to fluctuate based on the episode. As Frasier is a sitcom, the jokes are important, and this particular detail isn’t too important to the world’s story, so I’m ok with her awareness changing to serve an innocuous joke.
I love how Frasier and Niles need each other to talk them down from their darker impulses. Remember how in “The Crucible,” Frasier was going to throw a brick through the art gallery’s window until Niles talked him down? But in the process, Frasier told Niles something that made him upset, and Niles ends up throwing the brick. Here, Niles burns to get back at Danny, but Frasier talks him down, reminding him that he’s a psychiatrist and that he solves his problems through words and reason. Unfortunately for Frasier, Niles isn’t around to remind him of his own advice, and he succumbs to the very thing he talked Niles down from.